The first half of the Major League Baseball season has flown by but now we are getting ready for the post All-Star break bonanza to begin. The trade deadline looms and with the addition of the second Wild Card team, many organizations are in a constant struggle of deciding whether to buy or sell or simply stay put at the deadline. In this article, I am going to make my predictions on the biggest second half topics and decisions that organizations could make down the stretch run. Where will Manny Machado end up? Who else could be on the move? The Red Sox won’t blow their AL East lead will they?
First, let me recap the first half of the season for folks just joining the excitement, be it because of their interest in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NBA or simply got caught with World Cup fever over the last month. In the American League, it is a two horse race in the AL East and AL Central with the Red Sox having a slight advantage over the Yankees and the Indians leading the Twins by a substantial margin but the Twins are certainly still alive. The AL West seemingly will be won by the defending champion Houston Astros but strong first half’s by the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners have kept that race interesting. In the National League, I would venture to say that all three divisions are still up for grabs with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Phillies all holding slight leads in their respective divisions.
Now let’s get into the fun stuff.
Second Half Bold Predictions:
- Manny Machado will end up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and they will win the NL West. The interesting development though would be in the offseason, where although the Dodgers will have the money to sign Machado to a massive extension, the trouble will be finding where to play him when young superstar shortstop Corey Seager returns from Tommy John surgery and with Justin Turner at third.
- The Yankees will trade for Tyson Ross and J.A. Happ while sending Sonny Gray back to the West Coast and the Padres. The Gray experiment has been a disaster for New York and he needs a fresh start out of the spotlight.
- The Yankees will chase down the Red Sox and win the AL East. I think the Red Sox are due for some second half regression and are on an unsustainable pace. I’m sure Red Sox fans need not be reminded of Chris Sale’s 8.38 ERA in September and October.
- The Cubs will win the NL Central but will have three teams all within six games of them heading into September. I believe the Brewers will stay close for almost the entire season and think the Pirates and Cardinals will stay afloat longer than people believe but will eventually fade out.
- Zach Britton will be traded to the Phillies and they will win the NL East.
- Brad Hand will be moved to the Cleveland Indians to improve their abysmal bullpen and the Tribe will comfortably win the AL Central.
- The Washington Nationals will miss the postseason. A constantly underachieving franchise will hit a new low this season. One D.C. franchise overcame it’s postseason demons this year but the odds say two in one year is highly unlikely.
- The Astros will have three starters finish the year with 15+ wins and an ERA below 3.00. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton are already having spectacular campaigns and I expect that to continue in the second half. For good measure, I think Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel will keep their ERAs below 4.00 as well, making this pitching staff historically good.
- Mike Trout will lead all of baseball in home runs with 45+, all while driving in more than 100 runs, batting above .320 and stealing 30 bases. That is pretty good.
- The Orioles and Royals will both lose 105+ games. That’s not so good.
- Javier Baez, a career .263 hitter, who is hitting .292 at the All-Star break will hit below .270 for the entire season. Baez also has 19 home runs but will not amass more than 30 for the entire season. The almighty fielder Baez, who has committed a whopping 17 errors over the last two seasons, will amass 15+ in 2018.
- Jon Lester will finish the season with an ERA greater than 3.75 (currently at 2.58). He has been flirting with disaster in his last few starts and I expect some regression to occur, as well as, some bad luck. I swear I still think the Cubs will win the NL Central!
- Edwin Diaz and Dee Gordon will become the first pair of teammates to amass 50 saves and 50 stolen bases in a single season. This one is just for fun, but I expect many of you will be paying attention to the Pacific Northwest a little bit more now that I mentioned it.
Division, Wild Card, MVP and Cy Young Winners projections:
- East – Yankees
- Central – Indians
- West – Astros
- 1st Wild Card – Red Sox
- 2nd Wild Card – Mariners
- East – Phillies
- Central – Cubs
- West – Dodgers
- 1st Wild Card – Braves
- 2nd Wild Card – Rockies
- Mike Trout
- J.D. Martinez
- Jose Ramirez
- Freddie Freeman
- Nolan Arenado
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Luis Severino
- Corey Kluber
- Charlie Morton
- Jacob deGrom
- Max Scherzer
- Aaron Nola
Well that was a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoys the All-Star break and is ready for the dog days of summer and pennant races. I know as soon as this is submitted, it will be announced that Manny Machado has been traded to Philadelphia, but oh well that is the nature of the business. Feel free to comment anywhere you think I am out of my mind or any place you think I may be spot on.